When it comes time for holiday decorating, singing carols, or buying gifts, some people simply can’t bring themselves to join in the celebration of the season. Dr. Phil suggest that, for some people, unhappy childhood memories may be a factor.
“We’re like Pavlov’s dogs in some ways,” he says in the video above. “Pair up holidays and emotional pain, and pretty soon, the holidays just bring up all of the emotional pain.”
That’s exactly what happens for Johanna. “I think that my father’s drinking possibly took away from the spirit of Christmas,” she tells Dr. Phil.
“Do you want those circumstances to be determining your experience of the holidays as an adult?” he asks the mom of two.
“No,” says Johanna, who wants to experience the holidays with joy, at least for the sake of her children.
Dr. Phil suggests that it’s never too late to create new memories. “Somehow or another, you have to do whatever it takes to get closure on this. If it’s forgiving your father for that period of time, if it’s confronting him about what he did and took away from you during that period of time, if it’s writing a letter to him or to yourself, do whatever it is … because as an adult, you can make a conscious choice now.” In other words, she needs to find closure with the past before she can experience this time of year differently now.
Dr. Phil suggests "immersion therapy," meaning that Johanna might “go nuts” getting into the holiday spirit to truly experience all it has to offer. “That doesn’t mean that you have to succumb to the stress,” he says. “Immerse yourself in it — the spiritual side of it, the celebration side of it, the music, the candles, the tree. Just decide, ‘I’m going to create all of this for myself now,’” he says. “And if you want to have something that replaces the emotion of pain, when you do this, look right square in your children’s eyes and look at the joy that comes back from them in sharing this with you.”